August has mostly been about work, but this month it’s been a friendly toad squatting on my life. I’m on a project with decent, smart people, and basically being paid to do my hobby. As we’re close to a deadline, we’ve been asked to work two days a week in the office, which has felt burdensome, and it’s questionable how useful in-person work is, when half my team is in India and staying there. Otherwise, I’m enjoying it. I take a lot of meaning from my work – I like being part of a huge organisation, as well as the joy of collaborating with large groups of people to make complicated systems. This job is a little like looking after a puppy – it improves my life, but it takes a lot of effort. Overall, I’m feeling very happy. I wish my life could stay like this forever.
It’s been a rainy August, so it’s not been too bad being indoors. While I’d expected to spend August with my head down working, I’ve seen a fair few friends. nwv, Dan and Edith came by on their way back from the lake district. I also had an impromptu Saturday night dinner with James and Alex. Jay stayed for a weekend, my first time seeing him since the pandemic, which he spent in Italy. I also headed down to Bristol to see Libby and Vicky, where I was very well looked after, eating fresh food from the garden.
The bank holiday was spent on retreat in Wales, which was lovely. Good food and friends helped me relax after the crazy times at work. I came back early on the Monday to see a friend who had been staying in my house. She had a lovely time in Yorkshire but, after dinner on the Monday, fell over and broke her shoulder. She is recovering now, but we were in A&E until 4am. I’m very grateful to the passers-by who helped, waiting with us for over two hours until the ambulance arrived. Being a good samaritan is time-consuming in modern Britiain! It’s frightening how stretched our emergency services are after years of austerity.
I did very little walking in August, with a total of 315,484, an average of a mere 10,176 steps a day. I’ve been continuing my physio, and hopefully will soon be able to start running again.
I’ve been feeling much happier with my writing as I’ve been sending out a weekly short-story email (sign up here). I’ve now sent out 7 pieces from The South Downs Way and should be able to sustain this pace for some time. It’s a good way of working, although I need to figure out how to grow the audience. Memetic infection Hazards is still waiting on me completing the proof-reading. I think I am going to just have to book out an evening to do that. I’m not sure what’s blocking me there. Krill magazine was published with my micro-short story collection Fishscale and sold out quickly.
My reading has been a little better this month. I’ve been commuting to Manchester and bought a couple of physical books for this. Christopher Priest’s Airside was peculiar and interesting. Hannah Silver’s My Child, the Algorithm was an impressive and moving auto-fiction. I also read Ben Myer’s The Offing, a birthday gift from Jude, which was a lovely comfort read. Tom King’s Strange Adventures graphic novel was interesting, but the trick of having an innocent character facing adult problems starts to face diminishing returns. I also published a review of John Higg’s re-released KLF book.
I read more books than I’ve watched movies, managing 3 movies in August against 5 books. Knock at the Cabin continued Shyamalan’s run of ruining a good film with the ending. I had to buy Lost Highway as a Polish DVD, but it was good to return to after many years. It’s still confusing but undoubtedly a masterpiece. The Menu was fantastic, with great performances from Ralph Fiennes and Anna Taylor Joy. The set-up felt hackneyed, but the cast sold the concepts, and the story rose to a satisfying ending. I finished the series From, which mostly continues to be a Lost-style puzzle box, even down to the cliff-hanger echoing the other show. I’ll be in for the third season but I’m expecting little.
The social media diaspora feels strange. I’m enjoying bluesky a lot more than most other sites. Threads continues to be a disaster – there are just too many brands and content farmers. I managed 3 minute on Artefact – opening a site about curated reading by flinging a Daily Mail article at me was a very particular introduction. Instagram is OK, but low engagement. Despite my attempts to love it, I’m not feeling Mastodon. Probably the best social media site is an indie band discord with a small number of interesting and engaged posters, which turns out to be all I want. I did wonder whether I should rejoin Facebook for the local events and marketplace, but no.
- I recently passed the first anniversary of moving into this house, and celebrated by unpacking the last box.
- I’ve also finally put up some proper curtains in the bedroom and it’s transformative. I need to pay attention to other things that would make my life more comfortable.
- I realised with a shock that I don’t actually like vegan cheddar. It’s no good on its own, and I need to stop buying it.
- Oliver Burkeman wrote an excellent post on to-do lists as menus.
- My sleep hygiene has been improved by keeping my phone out of my bedroom to charge (something I normally do, but had got sloppy about). I don’t know how people manage who don’t do this.
- I am a strict vegan as far as what goes into my mouth, but I am loving the French egg shampoo that my sister gave me, which is a nostalgic memory from childhood holidays.